In Crossfit workouts, especially ones with designated rest periods, I frequently hear the admonishment to “control your breathing.” It isn’t aimed at me specifically, but at everyone. Lower the heart rate, control the breathing, prepare for the next burst of activity as best you can.
I wasn’t particularly athletic growing up, and was never into playing sports in more than a cursory fashion. I was never coached on such techniques and sometimes I felt like I didn’t know how to control my breathing. I would just do my best to slow it down and press on.
On the other hand, I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. Starting with Beatles songs with my dad and brother while my dad played guitar. Choir at church, where I sometimes acted as cantor at a weekday morning Mass when I was in gradeschool. The Young Naperville Singers for a year and a half. And I played the flute in school bands from 4th to 12th grades – I can’t play the flute during a workout, but my body has the memory of the breath discipline playing requires.
So every now and then, a song I can sing along to would be playing during those rest times – playing loudly enough that I could tell myself that no one would hear me singing along and believe it. And I’d sing along and my breathing would be under control, just like that.
It happened yesterday. We were working out in pairs, which gave one person rest while the other worked. And while I was waiting for my turn on the rower, “Dog Days Are Over,” by Florence and the Machine came on. I sang along and found that without any more effort than that involved with singing, my breathing was under control. I didn’t feel out of breath. I felt ready to attack when it was my turn to sit and row. I even kept singing a bit while I rowed, giving a push with my diaphragm at greatest extension.
I guess I’ll need to figure out something I can sing to any music, because not everything that gets played during workouts is singable – either I don’t know the song or it’s just a bunch of boom-boom electronic music without lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I like boom-boom, I just don’t feel inspired to sing to it.
And I think that bringing that knowledge that I do have of breath control, no matter where it originated, will be helpful in future workouts. If anyone at my box hears singing during the Open, it’ll probably be me.